Australian hiker's body recovered in Drakensberg

2018-01-05 07:31

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Pietermaritzburg - The body of an elderly Australian national has been recovered from a hiking trail in the Central ’Berg, after he reportedly fell and died while hiking alone.

Police confirmed that members from their search and rescue team initiated a search on December 29 after the man had left for a hike the previous day and not returned.

This was the second search launched for men who had gone walking alone in the ’Berg over the festive season.

There is currently an ongoing search for a Centurion man, Mark Grobler (25) who went missing on the Day of Goodwill (December 26) while hiking in the Drakensberg.

It is feared he is dead.

- Read more: Extensive search for missing hiker

Police members found that the Australian man’s body had sustained multiple injuries from his fatal fall.

It is understood that he was hiking along the path from the Drakensberg Sun Hotel to the Blue Grotto area.

The man has not yet been formally identified, and police are working with the Australian Embassy to locate and inform his next of kin, police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said.

Steve Cooke, a spokesperson for the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA), said that their members had assisted in the search for the man’s body.

“The trail he went on is an easy walk. He may have slipped and fallen and died as a result,” Cooke said.

The Witness reported on Thursday that Grobler had embarked alone on a hike along the Mlamonja valley from Cathedral Peak Hotel ascending through the pass to Twins Cave.

He was supposed to return along the same route, reaching the hotel on December 29. Organisations including the MCSA, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the police began an intensive search for Grobler when he failed to return, and two helicopters were even deployed during search operations.

One helicopter then crashed during the search, causing minor injuries to its occupants.

- Read more: Police helicopter crashes in Drakensberg

The search was scaled down significantly on Wednesday, but Cooke said that teams will continue searching for the next few weeks.

“When a search is planned, it is done by a group of experienced people and they identify areas where the probability of finding the person is.”

Cooke said areas where there was low probability of finding Grobler were being combed yesterday.

He said that while the MCSA would not encourage people to hike alone, it was understandable that keen mountaineers embarked on these hikes alone.

“If you’re well-equipped and experienced, it can be a very fulfilling experience. Normally, we encourage people to ideally go with a minimum of four people so that if one is injured, one can stay with them while two go for help.”

He added: “Grobler was well prepared, but the wilderness can be dangerous.

“These kinds of activities carry a risk, but people should be allowed to make the choice.

“One of the joys of mountaineering is the freedom.”

Attempts to contact Grobler’s parents, who had come down to the Drakensberg, were unsuccessful yesterday, and Cooke said that they had asked for privacy.

“They’re not in a good place,” he said.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  search and rescue

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